Toronto: Life in the Laneways

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Toronto: Life in the Laneways
Toronto: Life in the Laneways
Photo: AshtonPal

Toronto has 250 acres of what are considered “untapped public space.” If that seems like a lot, it’s a figure comprised of smaller spaces you probably don’t pay much attention to—laneways.

The city has more than 2,400 laneways spread out across its many neighbourhoods but concentrated in its downtown core, and the Laneway Project aims to make the most of these frequently neglected spaces. The project’s mandate is to work “with Toronto’s communities to create a network of vibrant, safe, people-friendly laneways across the city.” They help communities start their own laneway projects, implement demonstration projects, and work with the city to create laneway-friendly policies and procedures.

These goals brought together several dozen urban-minded individuals gathered Thursday night for the second annual Laneway Summit. Entitled “Laneway Confessions,” the group heard from speakers involved in laneway initiatives across the country, and learned how they might transform their own neighbourhood.

Laneway projects often start small but can have a big impact. Christine Liber, of the Kenwood Laneway Art Initiative, described how she and her neighbour Elly Dawson chose to combat the seemingly constant tagging happening in their St Clair West neighbourhood. Partnering with a local independent paint store, they offered to paint their neighbours garage doors for free. To date, the pair have painted more than 40 doors in their three-block neighbourhood. None of the painted doors have been re-tagged, since they have been painted though she said that if it that did happen they would simply “paint it again and again.” […]

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